Why the New Zealand match matters to the Tigers
12 March 2015, Nirapad News: Bangladesh’s final group match against New Zealand at Hamilton is being dubbed a dead rubber. The Kiwi’s have already guaranteed themselves first place in Pool A and nothing that will happen on Friday can change that. They are in the form of their life; home ground advantage, the McCullum factor, batting depth, potent seam bowlers, and in form Vettori make New Zealand a very strong contender for the competition. New Zealand coach Mike Hesson stated barring injuries or illnesses, the same winning side would play and will not be in any mood to do any favors for the visitors. Very few non Bangladeshi’s would be willing to bet on the men in green and red against a destructive and fearsome New Zealand team. But for Bangladesh this match matters, and here are a few reasons why!
If the Tigers draw inspiration from their two Banglawash’s and somehow manage to overcome the hosts, they will end up with 9 points. Australia and Sri Lanka are expected to beat Scotland in their final games and finish with 9 and 8 points respectively. Australia will then edge Bangladesh on net run rate and take up second place, and Sri Lanka will finish fourth. Finishing third will allow Bangladesh to make a strong statement to the cricketing fraternity. It will also give them a massive confidence boost before the quarter finals.
Avoid The In Form Defending Champions
If Bangladesh finishes third, they also avoid the inform defending champions in the quarter finals. India has looked the most convincing team of the competition. They have the strongest batting lineup amongst the fourteen teams. What is so impressive about them is their ability to score big or chase down any total with simple conventional batting-without the fancy reverse sweeps or one legged shots. Their pace bowlers are immaculate and effective. Ashwin and Jadeja are easily the best spin partnership. When it comes to catch conversions, runs saved India is the best fielding side. Above all their team spirit, mental strength and tenacious drive make them a menacing opponent everyone will look to avoid.
Avoiding India means, Bangladesh will then have to play South Africa at Adelaide, which has the potential to be a lucky ground. Although the South Africans look a much more daunting prospect on paper with big names like De Villiers and Steyn-they have a reputation of struggling at the business end of tournaments. So far they have been vulnerable on the chase losing to India and Pakistan. Bangladesh will also have fond memories of beating South Africa in Super 8’s of 2007 World Cup.
Fix the Combination
Even after five matches and three wins, Tigers still cannot say they have the right eleven and combination. Imrul Kayes could not repeat his 2011 performance against England. Expecting the left hander to deliver barely a day after arriving to Australia was overoptimistic. Arafat Sunny also proved to be ineffectual in the Aussie conditions.
Sarkar and Mahmudullah’s gallant effort against the new ball should give the team management a solution for number 2 and 3. Considering the form of Mushfiq and his ability to occupy crease, the right hander must bat at 4, ahead of Shakib. Nasir in place of Kayes, gives Bangladesh more depth, a better fielder and a part time spin option. This leaves Bangladesh a spot for a fourth pacer or a second spinner which can be decided according to the opponent and situation. The match against New Zealand gives Bangladesh its final opportunity to figure out the perfect lineup.
Regain Individual Form
Mahmudullah’s first century and Rubel’s winning spell would have given the duo new found belief. Likewise Mushfiqur Rahim, Sabbir Rahman, Mashrafee Mortaza and some of the others who have been in good touch would go into the remaining matches with a lot of confidence. But Bangladesh expects more from some of its other players.
Shakib Al Hasan has looked solid with the bat. But considering his class and ability the player himself would be disappointed he has not scored more. With the ball, Shakib has managed to keep things tight with an impressive economy rate. But Bangladesh always look strong when Shakib picks wickets. If Vettori, Tahir can find ways of picking wickets, so can Shakib.
Bangladesh will always have lofty expectations from Tamim. The dashing left hander has the individual brilliance to make a match winning difference, which he did against Scotland. However against every other side Tamim struggled, and his lack of form with bat is also affecting his usually reliable fielding.
The match against New Zealand would thus be the final opportunity for some of the players to regain some sort of form and momentum before the pressure cooker quarter finals.